China's Growing Economic Power Sowing Panic in Washington

© REUTERS / Jason LeeUS 100 dollar banknotes and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration in Beijing, China, January 21, 2016.
US 100 dollar banknotes and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration in Beijing, China, January 21, 2016. - Sputnik International
Donald Trump's decision to establish direct contact with Taiwan via a telephone conversation with the breakaway territory's president, Tsai Ing-wen, has predictably gone down like a lead balloon in Beijing. Question is: does the president-elect care?

Throughout Trump's campaign for the White House there were more than enough signs, for anybody who was paying attention, pointing to his intention of embracing a tough stance on China.

FILE - This combination of two photos shows U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, left, speaking during a USA Thank You tour event in Cincinatti Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, delivering a speech during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The US president-elect went out his way to excoriate Beijing over its alleged manipulation of the yuan (renminbi), the Chinese currency, by which, the narrative goes, Beijing has been able to attract enormous investment over the years — in terms of capital flows and jobs — responsible in turn for the country's phenomenal economic growth.

The fact that Trump's rendering of China's economic growth is open to dispute is neither here nor there when it comes to demonizing the world's most populous country, whose rate of economic growth has confounded Western economists over many years. In so doing, predictions that without political reform towards something approximating to Western liberal democratic norms said Chinese growth would be unsustainable over the long term have been proved wrong.

China, it is true, has been the main beneficiary of globalization over the past three decades, establishing itself as the world's manufacturing hub at the expense of the United States and every other developed Western economy, with the notable exception of Germany. It has made China and the Chinese a convenient scapegoat for a Trump campaign whose key economic plank was a pledge to bring manufacturing and manufacturing jobs back to America. In the process, the narrative that has been presented is that China has played an egregious role in 'stealing' American jobs via an underhand economic policy, and that, as president, Trump will redress this wrong committed by the Chinese as he sets out to "Make America Great Again".

Understandably, over the past year we have been preoccupied with the parlous state of relations between the US and Russia. In this regard the Obama administration has been grievously reckless in its continuing provocations of Russia, refusing to countenance the multipolar world demanded in the interests of justice, peace, and stability.

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But Obama is also the president who outlined Washington's pivot to Asia strategic priority back in 2011, designed to counter China's growth and influence. Placing aside for a moment the imperial arrogance implied in the very idea of a 'pivot to Asia', the result of Obama's aggressive economic and military focus on countering China has been to encourage a sharp increase in defence spending by Beijing, along with the deepening of ongoing territorial disputes between China and longtime US regional allies such as South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Indeed, so serious is the US about countering China it has made strenuous efforts to forge closer strategic ties with its old Southeast Asian adversary Vietnam, lifting a half-century ban on arms sales to the country earlier this year.

As filmmaker John Pilger reveals in the synopsis of his recent documentary, 'The Coming War On China':

"Today, some 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. They form an arc from Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India. It is, says one US strategist, 'the perfect noose.'"

Pilger goes on to point out: "In secrecy, the biggest single American-run air-sea military exercise in recent years — known as Talisman Sabre — has rehearsed an Air-Sea Battle Plan, blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca, cutting off China's access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa."

"It is largely this fear of an economic blockade that has seen China building airstrips on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Last year, Chinese nuclear forces were reportedly upgraded from low to high alert," he concludes. 

President-elect Donald Trump's scathing criticism of the Beijing suggests that he intends continuing the Obama administration's policy of placing this noose around China. Moreover, the president-elect has talked about the possibility of also placing a punitive tariff on Chinese imports.

What has gone little remarked in the West is the role that China has played in lifting one billion people out of extreme poverty across the Global South in the past 20 years. In a 2013 article that appeared in The Economist it was revealed, "China pulled 680 million people out of misery in 1981-2010, and reduced its extreme-poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to 10% now."

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Beijing's inroads into Washington's dominance of the developing world, acting as an alternative source of investment to US-dominated international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, is the real reason for so many being lifted out of extreme poverty.

Unlike Washington, Beijing offers a developmental model that places a premium on partnership with the states it invests in, accompanied by a principle of non-interference in their internal affairs.

It is an approach responsible for China forging a mutually beneficial relationship with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa in particular; the poorest region of the African continent and a part of the world traditionally associated with absolute poverty, famine, and unending immiseration. China's commitment to the continent has changed that in ways that were unimaginable two decades ago.

Moreover, it is a commitment that continues to grow. In a recent article that appeared at the fDi Intelligence website, Simon Curtis reveals:

"Chinese capital investment into Africa up to July 2016 has increased by 515% from full-year 2015 figures. With more than $14bn invested in Africa by Chinese companies so far in 2016, investment levels have already surpassed every year of recorded data available for fDi Markets since 2003."

No one should be in any doubt of the extent to which China's growing economic and strategic footprint is sowing panic in Washington. The ramping up of Sinophobia and anti-Chinese propaganda in the West that we are witnessing leaves no doubt of it.

Challenging the received truths of US hegemony is tantamount to blasphemy for those who view the world as an extension of manifest destiny.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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